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Calais to Pontarlier Question

Ray J

Where exactly are we?
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2015)
Portuguese & Rota Vicentina (2016)
Le Puy & Paris to Moulins (2017)
Via Francengina (2018)
Can anyone provide information on whether this leg of the Via Francigena is worthwhile in terms of beauty/satisfaction (ok, that's poorly written, but you get the drift), or is it just a slog until you get to Switzerland?
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
Can anyone provide information on whether this leg of the Via Francigena is worthwhile in terms of beauty/satisfaction (ok, that's poorly written, but you get the drift), or is it just a slog until you get to Switzerland?

Member @timr is the best person to aswer your question.
But you will pass Arras, Chaumont and Reims : not to miss IMHO.
 
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roving_rufus

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013-2015) Camino Portugues from Lisbon (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??)
I walked Canterbury to Chalons enChampagne in August and hope to return in 2019 to do another leg picking up where I left off. There were some lovely sections and interesting villages, towns and cities but there are days that are a little monotonous however even then I always found some gem to break it. Not much dramatic scenery but pleasant most of the time. And with Arras, Reims, Laon etc on route to add some culture into...I didn't see it as a slog just to reach Switzerland and am looking forward to the rest of my french section next year.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
Can anyone provide information on whether this leg of the Via Francigena is worthwhile in terms of beauty/satisfaction (ok, that's poorly written, but you get the drift), or is it just a slog until you get to Switzerland?
Hi Ray, I got back 2 days ago from Brindisi where I walked from Canterbury this year. (I took a few weeks break after Rome before starting up again.) it is very hard to advise other people in terms of satisfaction and beauty because they are very personal;). I'm not sure if I say that I loved the stretch from Canterbury to Pontarlier it that will really help you. It really does depends on what you like!
For me, the physical countryside and agriculture were interesting. As @SabineP says some really excellent cities to stop off. Some amazing churches. There's a number of different route possibilities. You could come down canals as @Bradypus did. There are a lot of war cemeteries!
Are fellow pilgrims important to you....? I met a couple heading for Santiago in Canterbury, a couple heading for Rome one evening and a group of 13 French people on a week's stretch. Strictly I think that means three encounters in over 1000km (in April, May.) I was very content with that but others may not be. It meant 99.9% of all my conversations were with local people and easily 90% in French with people who didn't speak English. This added hugely to my satisfaction.
There is BnB accommodation which becomes expensive, or staying in convents, monasteries, parishes or with families, or town halls or sports centre which again for me was hugely enjoyable. Again language helps here.
I'm very happy to answer specific questions if it would help you decide. I preferred it, definitively so, to Tuscany for example.
I would do it again (although I probably won't:)). Or at least not until after I reach Jerusalem. But for me, no not a slog or not just a slog, anyway.
I have an incomplete blog at walkingtim.com
I'd be interested to hear what you decide. Tim
 
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Harington

una abuelita inglés
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
Can anyone provide information on whether this leg of the Via Francigena is worthwhile in terms of beauty/satisfaction (ok, that's poorly written, but you get the drift), or is it just a slog until you get to Switzerland?
I loved the French part of the VF, despite deluging rain most of the way. You have the rolling plains of the north of France with poignant WW1 war cemeteries; you have the glories of Arras, Laon, Reims. You have the changing countryside - the real France profonde, and then the magnificent Jura mountains, with the deep gorges. You will meet French people of exceptional kindness. No, don't miss it.
 

Harington

una abuelita inglés
Camino(s) past & future
Vézelay/Francés 2011, Primitivo 2012, VdlP 2013, Via Domitia 2014, Inglés 2015, Francigena 2016
Hi Ray, I got back 2 days ago from Brindisi where I walked from Canterbury this year. (I took a few weeks break after Rome before starting up again.) it is very hard to advise other people in terms of satisfaction and beauty because they are very personal;). I'm not sure if I say that I loved the stretch from Canterbury to Pontarlier it that will really help you. It really does depends on what you like!
For me, the physical countryside and agriculture were interesting. As @SabineP says some really excellent cities to stop off. Some amazing churches. There's a number of different route possibilities. You could come down canals as @Bradypus did. There are a lot of war cemeteries!
Are fellow pilgrims important to you....? I met a couple heading for Santiago in Canterbury, a couple heading for Rome one evening and a group of 13 French people on a week's stretch. Strictly I think that means three encounters in over 1000km (in April, May.) I was very content with that but others may not be. It meant 99.9% of all my conversations were with local people and easily 90% in French with people who didn't speak English. This added hugely to my satisfaction.
There is BnB accommodation which becomes expensive, or staying in convents, monasteries, parishes or with families, or town halls or sports centre which again for me was hugely enjoyable. Again language helps here.
I'm very happy to answer specific questions if it would help you decide. I preferred it, definitively so, to Tuscany for example.
I would do it again (although I probably won't:)). Or at least not until after I reach Jerusalem. But for me, no not a slog or not just a slog, anyway.
I have an incomplete blog at walkingtim.com
I'd be interested to hear what you decide. Tim
I agree with all Tim says. See below.
 

Tim Greig

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016
Via Podiensis 2017
Via Francigena 2018
I walked the whole VF Summer 2018. It's an epic journey and a real sense of accomplishment. France was incredibly challenging because we met no pilgrims for weeks. There are few towns so food is often difficult to find and forget about fruit etc. Bars are few and far between, you can walk days without seeing one. In one desolate spot I met an Englishman who owned a large house in a village. It was in the terrible heatwave and he didn't even offer a cup of tea. We had nothing but tepid water. Accommodation is mostly in horrible hotels although I heard of a lone female getting good hospitality from the Marie offices. Italy was wonderful. So unless you want to walk all the way from Canterbury I suggest doing what most people do: start on the Great St Bernard Pass. But I'm glad I did it.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
There are few towns so food is often difficult to find
Like you @Tim Greig , I also walked from Canterbury. My intention for three weeks in September 2018 was to make Reims with the probability of continuing till my time ran out. In the event I made Chaumont, for total of nearly 600 km. So congratulations to you in achieving the entire route in one season.

For a number of reasons I walk roads.

Firstly nearly all my long distance training routes are roads or formed paths alongside roads. In my local training route network totaling around 150 km less than 20 km is unpaved

Secondly it tends to simplify navigation. And in this part of France there was very little signage. The first signage I saw for the FR 654 was after Sillery (a few hours out from Reims). This led me up a hill (admittedly though Chardonnay vineyards to be used for making champagne) and then petered out after a few kilometres. The second signage I saw was in Vitry-le-Francois: this was pointing west and said Compostelle!!

Thirdly was for the reason you have highlighted. I gave up tramping (think Pennine Trail, but mostly wooded and between 2,000 and 5,000 feet) many years ago and no longer feel an urge to port a weeks food and water and the means to cook it in addition to the usual clutter.

My route in France was:
Canterbury > Shepherdswell (tent) > Calais (hotel) > Licques (cabin) > (Lumbres - lunch) > Therouanne (gite) > Gauchin Legal (tent) > Arras (rest day) (hotel x 2) > Rancourt (hotel) > Peronne (hotel) > Saint Quentin (hotel) > Tergnier (tent) > Laon (hotel) > Romichy (tent) > Reims (rest day) (hotel x 2) > Conde-sur-Marne (hotel) > La Chaussée-sur-Marne (tent) > Brienne-le-Chateau (gite) > Bar-sur-Aube (hotel) > Colombey-des-deux-eglise (hotel) > Chaumont (hotel)

@Ray J , I am with @timr on whether you will find the route of interest. I found something or someone of interest in nearly every stop. My appreciation was enhanced from Arras to Reims as I was walking in a space that almost 100 years before to the week was a very fluid battleground and I bumped into many large French and smaller German and British Commonwealth military cemeteries. I was struck by the devastation of much of central Arras and the rebuilds. I noted the final comments in a documentary film at the end of the Wellington Tunnel tour at Arras, that the continuing civil wars over many centuries in Europe may have now stopped. I noted the continuing rebuild of Reims Cathedral and the reconciliation ceremony there about 1961 between Chancellor Conrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle. And to visit the Allied Expeditionary Force HQ in Reims and where the first surrender was taken in May 1945. And I was able to visit the Charles de Gaulle Musuem at Colombey and learnt something relevant to certain events playing out in Europe at present.

I was pleased to spend time along side many of the rivers of that part of France and to learn the mighty Marne debouches into the Seine within Paris.

I noted that crops cultivated on my route seemed to be either corn or beet. I saw corn being reaped by one machine served by a small flotilla of large capacity trucks. To see how many wind turbines there were turning with almost, to my mind, no wind.

And to understand that Chaumont (about 450 km from the sea) was a mere 300 metres above sea level. Which compares to my home (less than 2 km from the sea) at 80 metres asl.

But my meat may be ....

@Ray J , I wish you well in saying kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)

And I will need to save some pennies before returning to Chaumont in 2020 (I hope) to finish my task.
 

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